No Trust on the Internet
We’ve lost trust, or rather maybe we never had it. I remember being 7 or 8, booting up Win95 circa 1997. Waiting for those modem screeches and knowing as soon as I got on the internet, that it was the wild wild west. No one was who they said they were. I was 7, so that fear must have been instilled in me by my father, who loved to say “trust, but verify,” but that’s not trust! If you have to verify everything, who are you trusting?
Back then, no one was “real” on the internet. No one trusted anyone. For better or worse (better imo), the power of connecting us all, meant we could do, achieve, enjoy things we had only ever dreamt of. We signed up for everything. The internet, in particular, being “virtual,” has this dissociative effect. I even remember thinking, “eh, who cares its just the internet; it’s not real.” Well, now, it’s ingrained in our lives. We live through it, on it, for it.
As it evolved (at an unprecedented pace), we went from not trusting anyone, to granting extreme trust to everyone. Remember checks? I don’t. Getting lost? Nah. Mail? I haven’t checked my mailbox in so long they don’t even deliver it anymore. Sitting down with your friend to look at a photo album of their vacation? Come on, fuck off. As we moved online, so did our privacy, our secrets, and, most of all, our identities.
Login with Facebook. That nifty little button that allows you to sign up for an app without having to create yet another account. Its literally called an identity provider. No, this is not another blog trashing FB, they’re just the largest with 3B accounts or something ridiculous like that. The point is your digital identity controls access to all of those things you consciously and unconsciously worry about.
My family used to keep our social security cards, passports, and the like in a safe in our basement. Imagine trying to steal identities like that, hardly worth it. The current going rate for a social security number is estimated at $4. Four fuckin dollars. Why is it so cheap? Because Equifax (yup remember them) got hacked, which to me, means they were negligent with all our data.
Our trust problem isn’t because of scary hackers. They’re a drop in the bucket in comparison, Facebook (Cambridge Analytica), Google (incognito tracking), Amazon (Alexa listening), and on and on. Whether it’s for-profit like selling your data for more annoying ads, or negligence, security is an afterthought. For Amazon, training Alexa to be more accurate outweighed maintaining the privacy of its users.
Most of us have just accepted our fate, “once it’s on the internet, it’s forever,” willful ignorance is gone. The will be a tipping point where being careless with our data is unacceptable. Its building momentum, more and more users are deleting accounts, using more responsible services. Then, on the other hand, you’ve got TikTok…
We have to be able to build trust online, not just destroy it. Its the basis of relationships, foundational to society. Demand better, build better.